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Potentially questionable sources

This section explains why some sources are not appropriate for academic writing.

There are some sources which would almost always be inappropriate for academic writing and others which are only considered inappropriate in certain contexts.

Sources and the evidence they contain, will almost always be considered questionable if they:

  • cannot be checked or authenticated.
  • are undated and/or unauthored (e.g. many websites).
  • present views which are clearly biased or likely to be biased, and no other information is provided which might balance the views.
  • fall outside the traditionally accepted sources of evidence for your discipline or area of study.

Sources and evidence may be considered questionable or insufficient if they:

  • are non-print based, and cannot be checked using print-based sources.
  • depend too much on personal experience or anecdotal evidence.
  • are from texts intended for a popular rather than an academic audience.

The evidence that you provide to support your argument may be considered insufficient if it:

  • comes from primary sources only.
  • cannot be authenticated by reference to other texts or research.
  • is outdated.
  • does not demonstrate a basis of wide and informed reading.
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